It’s an easy supposition that Jack’s plan, such that it was, to teach Ace a lesson backfired horribly.
In theory, it wasn’t a bad idea to ask Ace to lose the fight. If Wild Bill hadn’t come calling, dangling a future in the big leagues before him, Ace might not have seen that future snuffed out before an energized audience.
But the stars aligned perfectly to create a disaster that even Jack couldn’t have planned.
There is a time to teach lessons to those you love and your employees, but Jack’s attempt to impart humility (and, let’s be honest, reinforce who’s in control) to Ace played out on a public stage, and no matter how you choose to view it, it looks ugly.
Jack drills down kayfabe to his wrestlers, and Ace in particular, but we might need another name for keeping reality out of the ring to the same degree you want to keep the story going out of it.
Jack let his personal feelings run ram shod over the storyline, and he’s going to have to help Ace pick up the pieces.
Heels Season 1 Episode 2 found Ace in a world of pain. He’s a volatile young man given to emotional fits and starts. His reaction in the ring after Jack’s “lesson,” has earned him stardom the likes that nobody wants to receive.
Ace’s ego was tied indelibly to his role as a Face. He loves being the hero. Fans have turned on him with their taunts of “wrestler cries like a baby,” and instead of picking himself up and brushing himself off, Ace went further into the pit of despair, taking his misery on a tour of Duffy.
If Jack didn’t seem overly impressed with Crystal on Heels Season 1 Episode 1, that changed as she proved her loyalty to the league and Ace and showed that she means it when she says she belongs in the ring, not as a valet, but a wrestler.
Scissoring some guy who dared call the Spades pussies was damned impressive, and when Jack and Crystal had a chance to talk about everything that went down, she revealed that she’s certain that for as chaotic as it was, it was great for the story.
As the night came to an end, Ace was feeling better too. Seeing everyone work together on the same side warmed his heart, and he drunkenly tried to express how much it meant to him for Jack to have his back.
The show is called Heels, though, and Jack and Crystal both see how perfectly Ace will fit into that role. He’s too reactionary to be a true face, but if he can embrace the outward persona of the bad guy, he’ll still have plenty of energy left to pontificate on life.
This was a tour-de-force performance for Alexander Ludgwig, and his acting alone ensures that even if the Duffy Dome audience turns on Ace, the Heels audience is all in for the little boy in a man’s body that is Ace Spade.
Ace has so many thoughts swirling around, and watching him wrap his head around them will allow for even more terrific performances from Ludwig.
It was a pretty eventful couple of days, and Jack’s rival, Charlie Gully, decided to take advantage of the current situation in the Duffy Dome by upping the ante with slick marketing ploys and approaching Willie with his desire to buy the DWL.
She’s got Jack’s back, though, and believes that his impressive work getting the audience to invest in the characters he’s creating sets the DWL apart from competitors.
If anything, the harsh reaction that Ace has received after his fight shows how much the audience cares. Even if it’s not blatant adoration, they’re completely invested.
That’s both good and bad news for Jack at the Duffy Dome and at home. The building audience reaction will find him even more determined to move the DWL beyond Duffy and into the limelight.
As the DWL manager, his move with Ace put fear into the other wrestlers’ eyes as they wonder if they’ll ever get their chance at the belt and if they can trust their leader.
They figure that in Ace’s shadow, they’re not worth much, and if Jack treated his own brother like he did, then what will it mean for them?
His job as a lawnmower salesman is suffering, with little Timmy passive-aggressively trying to show Jack who’s boss, and Staci and Thomas are learning to function without Jack at home.
None of those scenarios are ideal, but Jack is trying to be all things to all people, so it’s not unexpected.
Staci gave Jack the benefit of the doubt for a while. She hoped that he’d rid the attic of its squirrel, have dinner with her and Thomas, teach Thomas soccer, and mow the lawn.
He didn’t do any of those things, so she stepped into his shoes and took the lead.
Their love for each other seems like enough to pull them through this phase of DWL growth, and Jack’s got a good supporting team who will help him and the wrestlers weather the storm he unleashed with his match with Ace.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to family, and this group is a family whether by blood or love of the sport. That much was apparent as they all came together to welcome Big Jim’s child into the world.
There is more than enough drama to sustain Heels for its first season and beyond. The question is, are you watching? Are you falling in love with the characters as much as the Duffy Dome fans?
Hit the comments and share your thoughts.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.